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Local residents raise awareness to the children still separated from parents at the U.S. border

September 23, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF - On Sunday, Sept. 16, 30 people gathered together at the Ministerios Restaurando Heridos, Hispanic Christian church in Scottsbluff, dedicating their service to raising awareness of the children still separated from their parents at the U.S. southern border.

The service was their act of participating in Define American’s Week of Witness. Since 2011, Define American has been asking people, “How do you define an American?” During their Week of Witness, thousands of people came together to raise awareness to the children who have been separated from their parents.

Pastor Agustin Portillo, vice president of the Worldwide Christian Chaplains and pastor at Ministerio Restaurando Heridos along with the church’s congregation shared biblical scriptures of migration and personal immigration stories.

Portillo got involved in the Week of Witness through Valeria Rodriguez, who works for Define American and is leading the “Week of Witness” action to #ReuniteEveryChild

“When she told me what they were doing and why, I right away got on board to dedicate a worship service to continue bringing awareness of the children being separated at the boarder,” Portillo said.

From Sept. 7-16, thousands of people joined in a multifaith “week of witness” to bring attention to the children who are still separated from their parents after arriving at the southern border seeking refuge in the United States.

Portillo and his congregation dedicated their service to raising awareness. Some held prayer vigils. Others recorded lullabies with family and friends and posted them online to social media through the hashtag #ReunteEveryChild.

While the separation of children at the border has made national news, separations are occurring nationwide. Portillo hopes the services at his church will spark the entire Scottsbluff community to get involved.

“Family separation isn’t just happening at the border,” he said. “It is in our own community due to our outdated immigration laws.”

Portillo and those in attendance during the service hope that everyone can empathize with the separations and be able to place themselves in the shoes of the parents who do not know where their children are or if they will see them again.

“Imagine how you would feel being torn apart from your children, Portillo said. “Imagine how your children would feel being apart from you.”

The best thing people can do to help is to start getting informed on the issue and learn about organizations who are working to combat separating children from their parents, he said. They can also make donations for those who are raising awareness every day.

Portillo knows there are caring and compassionate people in Scottsbluff and western Nebraska and he hopes more will step forward to help him continue the fight.“These actions do not define who we are as a country,” he said. “We are better than this.”

For more information on Define American or the Week of Witness, visit https://defineamerican.com/weekofwitness/. To get involved, visit https://defineamerican.com/blog/what-you-can-do/.

inorth@starherald.com

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